Six Sigma Really Sucks

Robin Barnwell

Lean Six Sigma

Six Sigma practitioners beware this April Fools Day - applying Six Sigma methodology to everything might create bigger problems than you expect! Columnist Robin Barnwell explains what happened when he brought methodical rigour to tackling NVA in the household chores.

I’d like to talk about my recent experience at home in applying Six Sigma.

Over this weekend my wife and I had "words" about the work I do helping out on the home chores. There were a number of areas I could help such as cooking, washing dishes, ironing, cleaning toilets, shopping, washing clothes, making beds, tidying-up, planning meals, and so on.

Now I had no idea of the sheer number of NVA factories at work and being a strong believer in Six Sigma I committed to resolve this problem.

I dedicated my Saturday evening and produced what I believe to be a very polished piece of work. I reviewed these key processes and created a core set of current-state value stream maps. For each of these I developed some slick data collections sheets to baseline current performance. I even identified some time saving quick wins. I shared my work and must say I was most surprised by the reaction and being told exactly where to stick my data collection sheets!

But I am a committed practitioner and realised I may have misunderstood the problem statement and goals. It seemed helping to do the chores was more important than improving current performance? So Sunday night I cooked the evening meal and over dinner suggested we discuss our differences. Luckily to support this I had previously produced a fishbone diagram and recommended a rapid brainstorming exercise followed by constraint busting 5-whys to get quick results…….

Back at work on Monday morning, I am having a tough job trying to explain my black eye. I’m sleeping in the spare bedroom and the kids think I am an idiot.

Six Sigma really sucks!